Posted by: rcottrill | April 29, 2011

Old-Time Power

Words: Daniel Paul Rader (b. Aug. 24. 1879; d. July 19, 1938)
Music: Daniel Paul Rader

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Paul Rader’s daughter claimed he was born in 1878, a year earlier than published reports state.

Paul Rader was a prominent pastor and evangelist, in the early part of the twentieth century. He also wrote a number of gospel songs. Only Believe is one of his, as is the present hymn, Old-Time Power, published in 1917.

With the coming of the industrial revolution, and the many inventions of the nineteenth century, new kinds of power were adopted, and old ones were less frequently used. Lamps and candles were replaced with electric lighting. The horse and buggy gave way to the automobile. And ships, no longer equipped with sails, were driven by powerful engines.

The avalanche of discoveries and inventions caused some to think that science and human ingenuity would one day bring paradise on earth. The launching of the great ocean liner Titanic in April of 1912 typified the optimism of the age. The ship was considered unsinkable, and there were only enough lifeboats to accommodate about one third of the passengers. But it sank on its maiden voyage, and now it lies, a rusting hulk, two and a half miles down in the cold Atlantic.

More than fifteen hundred people died that night, and a little of man’s confidence in his own technology dissolved as well. No human invention can make us absolutely safe and secure. More than that, no source of earthly power can save lost sinners or transform a life. The answer is the “old-time power,” spoken of in the Scriptures. Among other things, the dynamic power of God saves sinners through the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 1:16; I Cor. 1:18; I Thess. 1:5), and it energizes Christians for their life and service for Christ (Acts 1:8; II Cor. 3:5; 4:7; Eph. 3:6-7, 16-17, 20; Col. 1:10-11).

Pastor Rader’s hymn is a prayer for the Lord to empower His people. With that petition I have no disagreement (cf. Heb. 4:16). However, the song seems to represent a theological position called crisis sanctification that I do not believe is biblical. The idea is that there is a further work of the Holy Spirit which must be sought after salvation. Sometimes this is called the “second blessing,” and believers who have never had this alleged experience may be looked down upon by some as second class Christians.

Space in this short blog does not allow me to explore the subject fully, but this theology is based on a misinterpretation and misapplication of the Word of God. It confuses the filling of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18-19) with the Spirit’s baptizing work (I Cor. 12:12-13), and tries to make Pentecost (the historical and one-time event described in Acts chapter 2) the norm for everyone throughout the Church Age.

CH-3 suggests we “claim, by faith, the promise of the Holy Ghost and fire.” This refers to a prophecy of John the Baptist that “[Christ] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt. 3:11). The second blessing folks take this to refer to the crisis experience they seek. However, it is more likely John, similar to the Old Testament prophets, is combining events related to Christ’s first and second coming, passing over the interval between.

Christ, at His ascension, sent the Holy Spirit to begin a new work. The baptizing work of the Holy Spirit occurs at conversion, uniting to new believer to Christ and to His spiritual body, the church (I Cor. 12:12-13; Gal. 3:26-28). The baptism of fire most likely speaks of Christ’s coming in judgment at the end of the age (II Thess. 1:7-9). This is made clear in the context of Matthew 3:11 (see vs. 10 and 12). It is further indicated by the fact that when the Lord Jesus predicts the soon commencement of the Holy Spirit’s Church Age ministry, nothing is said of “fire” (Acts 1:5).

Are we able to obtain a “second blessing” of divine power? Certainly. And a third, and a fourth–as many and as often as needed (Matt. 7:11; Phil. 4:6; I Pet. 5:7). But that is not limited to a one-time crisis event. If the last lines of this hymn were changed to “Till we claim, by faith, the promise / Of the Holy Spirit’s power,” I suppose it would be suitable as a plea for supernatural enablement. I know some will disagree, but otherwise I cannot recommend this song.

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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